By Geoffroy Martin, Criteo
With two months left in 2019, there is plenty of evidence that
retail’s doomsday is indeed upon us. Store closures abound — Q1
2019 saw more brick-and-mortar shutdowns than the entirety of 2018. Household
names like Toys ‘R’ Us, Nine West, Brookstone and Payless have shut up shop;
and Amazon continues to squeeze the competition with one-day Prime shipping.
However, all this doom and gloom fails to reflect the whole
story. While tales of retail’s demise make for great clickbait, there’s another
side to the story that points not to a retail apocalypse, but a retail renaissance.
The U.S. is on pace to see more than 3X as many brick-and-mortar store openings
in 2019 than in 2018.
Big box brands like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us are launching
new store formats better suited to today’s more urban shoppers and even Amazon
is seeing its share of e-Commerce sales decline.
So what can retailers do to ensure they are part of the
renaissance instead of the apocalypse? We see smart retailers playing to their
strengths and investing in creating the sorts of omnichannel shopper
experiences that pure play e-Commerce giants can’t.
Experience Is Still King
For many products, an in-store shopping experience is
critical. Sunglasses must look just right, décor needs to fit the home and
perfume will always be intensely personal.
Target is navigating this trend perfectly in the back-to-school
season. It shows college dorm supplies online on its easy-to-navigate web site,
and consumers have the option to purchase online or go into the store to
inspect the items before making a final decision.
It’s Not The Number Of
Bricks, It’s How You Use Them
Massive malls and warehouses won’t be the avenue most choose
when they pair online with in-store. Big stores come with big upkeep fees,
sprawling parking requirements and lots of employees.
Bed Bath & Beyond isn’t closing 40 stores this year
because it’s confused about what’s next. In fact, the retailer is testing out
15 experimental “lab” stores that sell more home décor and food, building on
the 21 experimental stores it opened last year. Target is making similar moves,
closing six stores and opening 30 small-format locations in urban neighborhoods
and college towns.
Mobile Isn’t Optional
In just two years, mobile will make up 75% of all e-Commerce
globally. Consumers are already spending unprecedented amounts of time on
mobile shopping apps. In fact, consumers are spending 45% more time on apps
than they did in 2017.
Today’s consumers demand hyper-relevant shopping experiences;
they want to research products, read reviews and easily purchase items no
matter where they are and aren’t willing to give these up when shopping on
mobile devices. To give consumers what they want, you need to leverage first-
and third-party data to deliver customized, meaningful experiences to shoppers —
experiences that quickly translate to increased sales and brand loyalty.
Now It’s On You
This is a renaissance moment in the industry, but only for
those retailers who focus on delivering unique experiences through a smarter
omnichannel mix of brick-and-mortar, web and mobile channels. Major retailers
have already shown the way. It’s time for others to follow.
Coresight Research, April 2019.
App Annie, 2018.
Geoffroy Martin is the role of EVP and GM of Retail Media
at Criteo. Prior
to joining Criteo, Martin was a private consultant with a focus on growth
strategies and innovation. From 2004 to 2015, he held multiple positions at
Art.com, including COO and CEO, where he oversaw an explosive growth in revenue
and customer base across 150 countries.